tv Ajit Pai - National Review Institute Ideas Summit CSPAN March 30, 2019 12:46am-1:17am EDT
>> the chair of the sec spoke at the good ideas summit for about half an hour. >> please welcome charles c w cook and the fcc chairman, ajit pai. >> thank you for joining us. >> great to be with you. keep it clean. >> i will. [laughter] maybe we can stop by asking a basic question. what is the fcc? the federal communications commission is the nation's premier communications regulation agency. ago.re created 85 years essentially, it's enabling
americans to be able to benefit from communications technology, whether it's more traditional, like radio, tv, and telephone, or the modern ones, satellite, internet, and wireless. matching the operation to the american consumer with the technological innovations on cap, that's what our core mission is. >> what was the mission in 1934? >> it changed a little bit. back then, we were created to regulate the airwaves, broadcast tv and radio airwaves, the spectrum being used. in addition, regulating the telephone monopoly. there's a list of regulations that congress charged the agency with imposing back in 1934. it has certainly changed as technology has advanced. the mission has changed, as well. that's one of the big challenges of this job, fitting the square pig of regulation into the round hole of technological innovation. >> what should it do? there's a debate over what the
fcc should be doing. in your view, what should it do? >> in our view, we should be guided by a few basic principles. first inform us, have a strong belief in the power of a free market. history, generally, but our experience demonstrates markets are far better positioned to drive innovation and investment than government regulation. alternately, the entrepreneurship initiative shown by private individuals and companies has delivered far greater benefits for american consumers than bureaucrats in washington. ofhink ultimately, it's one the things we have to respect. the second is the rule of law. the agency can't make it up as we go along. we are bound by the laws. congress passes and the president signs. the communications act is our founding document. we have to stay true to the words of that. even though something may be a good idea, we can't simply say
"ok, this is what we are going to do." we have to have a statutory mandate. the other piece, which is becoming important, the respect for the basic principles of economics and physics. ideas mayof wild sound good in theory, but when you run it through economic analysis and realized the costs are going to greatly outweigh the benefits, that would suggest it is a bad thing. physics.g with we may mandate all kinds of great things, but if they don't work in the real world, that's the problem. we incorporated a greater respect for those basic principles. i think that's part of the reason why our agenda has been much more successful, in terms of driving what i call digital opportunity for all americans. >> at the risk of talking you out of your job, explain to me how likely it is that the fcc will eventually become unnecessary? what i mean by that is in 1934,
radio is one of the main means by which people communicate. you only have a limited bandwidth for radio. the fcc is there so it can regulate the spectrum, because if everyone starts a radio station, you just get static, the same is true for television. now we move data in different ways. tcp/ip, the internet, satellite, cable, which is not regulated by the fcc. are we going to reach a point at which there is no such thing as a limited bandwidth spectrum and we don't need an fcc to regulate it? is it the case that there are always challenges that you'll be asked to address? >> that can happen someday. hopefully not until my term is over. [laughter]
the marketplace has changed dramatically. the am radio band occupies about one megahertz of the spectrum total. over the next 18 months, the fcc will auction off over 5000 megahertz of spectrum for 5g, the next generation of wireless connectivity. a huge influx in supply, a great increase in competition, much more innovation than we thought possible. in time, there could be private mechanisms to sort these things out. i think there will continue to be a role for the fcc in certain ways. some operations we give in order for companies abroad to be able to enter the u.s. market may be important. changes the law, we will continue to administer those important statutory functions. >> one of the questions that has come up before you is net neutrality. you may have heard of it.
is net neutrality? why are some people so upset at the decision you took to essentially threaten your life? what was that about? >> i'm always interested to hear people when they approach me, they are upset what i did with net neutrality, and i ask them with what it is. they say it's about uh -- well, yeah. in my view, net neutrality first and foremost is a productive marketing slogan. who can be against neutrality? what it means is government regulation of the internet. it means the federal government putting its finger on the scale in favor of a particular sector of the industry and saying "we know best how to direct investments, manage networks." in my view, the internet is the greatest free-market innovation in history. to borrow from a recent public official, government didn't
build that, someone else made that happen, the internet economy we have today. in our view, it has some parts. i give credit to the clinton administration. back in 1996, they believed in a law, with the agreement of republican congress, that the internet should be unfettered by federal and state regulation. it is 47 u.s. code 230. years, from 1996 until 2015, we had the market-based approach to the internet. trillion in network investment, we saw small startups become global giants, like facebook, amazon, netflix, google. consumers benefited in ways that were unthinkable one generation ago. we find it hard to remember that 20 years ago, the internet meant getting aol cd-roms in the mail, hearing the modem when you are trying to dial-up. it is incredible how much
innovation we have seen in the past 20 years. i would argue it's not because of government, it's because we made the decision not to regulate the internet like a slow-moving utility, like amtrak, or your electric company. view, the decision to impose these net neutrality regulations, it was a solution. it wasn't broken when the previous administration decided to fix it. the result of the fix turned out to be negative. infrastructure for the first time at the -- outside of the recession decline. ultimately, we saw countries around the world thinking the americans are getting in on the game, maybe we should start thinking about heavy-handed regulations, as well. that is part of the reason why the entire enterprise was misguided. people were upset, i think it's because a lot of people saw political advantage. use all of these fears. we documented some of them.
we saw a broadcast in 2017 when we made our decision. this is in the end of the internet as we know it, you will have to pay five dollars for a tweet, our internet will look like portugal's. are my favorite, the internet will go one word at a time. last time i checked, you can still hate tweet your favorite fcc chairman without any problem . in in our view, it generates a lot of heat because some people saw political advantage in it. the results of our decision are becoming clear. inorts that came out december shows that speeds for the internet increased from december 2017 to december of 2018 by over 35%. we see infrastructure investment going up, we hear about new companies investing and entering the space. in our view, this free-market approach is proven to be the
right one. notwithstanding some grandstanding politicians or beltways special-interest. >> a bill was just pass that would overturn your decisionsed. , if it were go to the senate, that would be american law. if that happens, what are the worst case scenarios? it was a lot of political, but a backedmajor corporations the idea of keeping net neutrality. was that regulatory? did they want to stop smaller businesses from coming in? what was driving that? >> i think some of them wanted rivals.ate they achieved traumatic scale in silicon valley. they have some of the biggest companies in the world. they thought let's see meant a regulatory advantage by forcing our rivals, the people who build and operate these networks, heavy-handed regulations. the notion that paladin wireless in georgia has more power than
google is absurd on its face, but that's what the previous administration decided to do. the big ones we all know, but even the small ones as preemptive monopolists. we talked about the 1934 communications act. the internet regulations imposed by the previous administration are based directly on those laws designed during the roosevelt administration to handle the telephone monopoly. that is the wrong type of approach, we think, to this dynamic framework of the internet. the nightmare scenario did come to fruition. rather than the last year of innovation you have seen, you start to see exactly the nightmare scenario play out. all of the isps do start charging different subscription models. they probably make an
exception for you so they can send things to you, but they start charging access to they arenetflix, really clearly treating each traffic category. people say they hate this. at that point, is it the role of the fcc to regulate, or will the market bring in new players noticing people were so upset by the status quo? >> a few different points. first and foremost, we did not see that type of behavior in 20 years. we do not see them today. number two, we have a firm transparency regulations at the fcc. every service provider has to disclose business practices, network management practices to us and the american public. we would know that immediately, there would be scrutiny from us, the press, and others. number three, it is backed up by enforcement from the federal trade commission.
they have jurisdiction over any unfair or deceptive trade practices or unfair methods of competition. because of the memorandum of understanding between our agencies, the ftc stands willing and able to enforce the law in that regard. i would say, some of these hypotheticals are hypocritical when it comes to certain companies that engage in these same practices themselves. if i were to tell you right now that there is a very big corporation that delivers a service by charging publishers, people like national review, a money, whennt of they say is if you pay us this morning, we deliver this content to your mobile phone more quickly? that service exists today. it is done by google and is called accelerated mobile pages. is literally in the name of the product. they deliver it faster if you pay a fee. where is net neutrality? nowhere to be found. i suspect it's because they don't want to focus on silicon
valley, they want to focus on a certain aspect of the industry. if i'm being honest, they should have an answer why it is procompetitive. i can come up with ideas, but we need to have a level of regulatory playing field. being intellectually honest and seeing what the framework should be. in my view, it's the free market framework, not the washington knows best framework that will deliver internet networks as quickly as your dmv, that runs as reliably as amtrak, and is popular as your post office. [laughter] >> what role is it for government in making sure people in rural communities, who live in the middle of nowhere, have access to the internet? >> this is where i think the american public's attention drawn.be and is when i travel around the u.s., i have been 244 states, puerto rico, and the virgin islands, i have yet to hear anyone say our top idea is title ii versus title i relation of the internet, it's that we won in an axis period, we want more
competition -- we want internet access. i say that not professionally, but personally. i grew up in a small town. it predominately it's on the wrong side of the digital divide. we see our role as trying to get the building blocks of internet infrastructure into those parts of the country, modernizing our regulations to make it easier for providers to build this infrastructure. whether it's wireless powers, what goes into the ground, or getting spectrum for certain companies to use to provide access to rural areas. that's an area where i think all of us can come together. that's part of the reason why i regret the net neutrality up so muchchewing discussion in washington. we need to have a sense of mission about connecting every american. it's about national competitiveness and empowering families and communities around the country. we have been sidetracked. >> what is 5g? is it part of this movement to increase and upgrade our infrastructure? how does it relate to the net
neutrality? >> it's the next generation in wireless connectivity. most are familiar with 4g. 5g promises a transformational wireless experience. it can be 100 times faster than 4g. the latency, the gap in time it takes when you ping the network and when it gets back to you, it will be one 100 of what it is today. we are talking about huge increases in speeds. you can seamlessly stream 4k video on your mobile phone as if you were sitting at home on your desktop. we think 5g is a tremendous opportunity for wireless innovation. the other reason why it's important to me is it demonstrates an opportunity for the u.s. to show leadership. other countries, china in particular, saw the success the u.s. had with 4g, not just in delivering the networks, but the app economy, they want the advantage for themselves.
that's part of the reason why last fall, i introduced the 5g fast plan, facilitating america's superiority in 5g technology, getting more spectrum into the marketplace, making it easier to deploy infrastructure of the future, and modernizing our rules for morning at fiber deployment. those are the parts of the 5g fast plan. we are executing all three. as a result, america is in the lead. there's all kinds of innovation we cannot even imagine now. telemedicine, precision agriculture, online education, the future can be dramatic. using virtual reality to train medical students on doing robotic surgery, managing ports remotely using these 5g applications. all kinds of things on tap if we get the building blocks in place. >> how did china do that? was it government led? did they open up the space to free enterprise? >> this is one of the big challenges we have. china does not observe the democratic niceties that we do.
if beijing decides they will make it the national policy to succeed in 5g, essentially they just wipe -- organize the entire regulatory structure towards making that happen. it directly subsidizes their own companies and the like. part of the issue we have is that in the u.s., we have federal, state, local, and in some cases, tribal regulatory review. in china, it's a seamless regulatory apparatus. one of the things we have been trying to do is to speed up the process to streamline our governmental process to promote 5g entrepreneurship on our shores instead of going abroad. >> there are people in america who suffer from what is described as china envy. be chinaan wants to for a day, which means wanting to remove the limitations on government and get rid of the distinctions used. there would be no difference between the federal and state, no one who can get in the way. is a part of us
in the room, we like checks and balances, but what about the argument that those checks and balances, although very useful politically and constitutionally necessary, are going to lead america to a disadvantage and leave us behind in the long run? of the think some different layers of regulatory review will end up stalling investment. small wireless company looking to compete against the bigger companies in 5g, you are thinking about how to deploy a 5g network at scale. the 5g networks in the future will of different than the 4g networks. instead of being dispersed 200 foot cell towers, we will see hundreds, if not, thousands, of small cells. it infrastructure no bigger than a pizza box, but you will need more of them. if you are a small company trying to figure out to do this, if you have to get permission from the fcc or another federal local, state government,
government, any of the other indian tribes and other organizations, it will be difficult to do that. our position has been let's streamline the process to make sure government's legitimate interest in making sure these things don't end up in feeding investment. that's what we have seen in some cases. by exorbitant fees charged local governments simply because they can. that will ultimately lead america on a macro level to lag behind in terms of 5g infrastructure. >> is china the other way around? they don't have enough innovation? the government is good at that than americans? >> i think the political sphere in the united states is strongest in the world. there's no question china has made it a major priority to lead in 5g. part of that involves innovation, not just in 5g, but related technologies that interact with 5g. first sample, artificial intelligence and machine learning are a huge part of investments in innovation into that. we see results with how they are
trying to think about using facial recognition technology in order to control some of their own subjects. same with other technologies like block chain, quantum computing, and the like. that's why we need to make sure we prioritize on a national level investment, innovation in emerging technologies. we need our private sector to innovate to lead. >> at the risk of asking you to criticize your colleagues, suppose we had a turnover in leadership, or the balance changes within the commission, what should the audience be worried about? what's the one thing they should worry about having? >> with respect to this issue, we would share an interest in preserving u.s. leadership in 5g . a national priority, not a political priority. one thing i would worry about is whether or not anyone with a more regulatory bench will see the market as something to be
regulated, as opposed something to be encouraged. shakespeare, hell hath no fury like a regulated board. some people see this innovative sphere as something to became, as opposed to something to be encouraged. it's tempting for some to say "we are not going to trust the market with a backstop of fcc enforcement, we want to declare the entire marketplace broken and empower government to deliver solutions for the american people." history demonstrates when i has been falling. i fear it's a lesson we have to keep learning. >> here's a question that o what it is more pointed, what would the fcc do if isps began blocking content to right-leaning groups, or it wasn't precluded by their customer it agreement? you get viewpoint discrimination, what happens? >> same thing, the transparency rule would kick in and they
would have to disclose these management and business practices. that would potentially be an fcc violation. same thing to blocking access to content. fcc would violate that under its framework, under section five of the federal trade commission act. >> can you get an isp that says "we are the left-leaning isp and we don't hide it, we just don't let anyone read national review and that's what we do"? >> that doesn't happen in the marketplace today. if it did happen, it would be evaluated under the framework i just outlined. whoever asked the question should be far more concerned about other players in the internet economy that do decide what you see, and more importantly, what you don't. those players are entirely unregulated. that's part of the reason why last fall, i published a blog where i said we need to have a candid conversation about transparency. where is the transparency for some of these tech giants that don't have to disclose what people see and what they don't? we have no idea right now.
that's part of why you see a bipartisan ups well in congress about how to think about these issues. there's simply no regulation at all. there is a vacuum right now. >> what should we do is google starts saying it is going to prioritize rachel maddow over everyone else when you look up politics? >> that's a decision for congress and the ftc to make. out that ity point is hypocritical for some of the same tech giants that have wasted these heavy-handed regulations on others to be complaining about the prospect of heavy-handed regulation of a similar kind being imposed on themselves. >> several states place net neutrality in state law. if enough states pass legislation on this topic, will the fcc reconsider the issue to preempt state law or come up with a different proposal on equality? states to be for regulating what is a federal concern? is it a gray area?
>> it depends on the nature of the state legislation. generally speaking, we view the internet as an interesting activity. even though we're sitting next that would be an internet communication that would most likely traverse state boundaries. it follows from that under the constitution and laws of the u.s. it can only be regulated on the federal level. the fcc can only send the regulatory policy for the country. seeking to supplant that decision that the state law would be preempted. the particular's matter, the particulars matter, but we believe there should be not a patchwork. we see a similar dynamic with respect to privacy. certain states are passing privacy laws, california for example, past of privacy law which is fairly strong. we're seeing the same companies neutralitynet
regulations on the state level coming to washington saying, we need a federal privacy law to preempt the states that may deregulate in this area. under the well established precedent of goose versus gander -- [laughter] patchworktates to regulate on the federal level. host: what does the fcc have to do with huawei? i have only ever read that. to give a prize for reading to somebody and i had read harry potter, but never out loud. i said to the whole school my favorite character was "her- me-own," instead of hermione. [laughter] talk about how there is a lack of classics education, greek names in particular. leave that for another time.
one of the things that fcc is concerned about is the integrity of our supply-chain. as networks become ever more complex, they rely on equipment from companies that may be abroa barringd the use of federal funds from being spent on. equipment or services that come for -- from a country determined by the u.s. government suppose a national security threat. we are evaluating. they have expressed concern for companies that may be subjected to intelligence requirements in terms of national intelligence laws. in china they require any individual or entity from intelligence -- complaisance with intelligence services. role inat is the fcc's distinguishing ad messaging versus free speech?
have somee jurisdiction over sponsorship verification when it comes to broadcast, tv. when it comes to the internet, we do not. when it comes to free speech, i am a first amendment absolutist. the last thing we want is the government being a gatekeeper, deciding who can speak and who can't. generally speaking that has infused in the way i have done the job. it is tempting for those to say, why shouldn't the federal government police what it says on this particular website, but once you go down that road, history has shown it is a difficult -- dangerous path. what distinguishes the u.s., we have not had a guarantee of the but a culturet, of free speech that allows and encourages people to speak online. we see the internet as the great forum of our era.
many people seem less likely than ever to that quote misattributed to voltaire, i may disagree what you say, but i will fight to the death for your right to say it. it is a worrying sign for me as a citizen. when television is broadcast over the air or radio over the air within fcc-regulated bandwidth, the fcc has rules in place. but for example, cable does not, nor does the internet. why do those rules not apply to internet broadcast over a spectrum that is related? you will have 5g and with. why do those rules not attached to that? mr. pai: congress is not given permission. there is a statue that directs them to the broadcast.
there is not a similar statute that applies to other media. that is one of the reasons there is a distinguish -- distinction between the two. host: which is a good thing. [laughter] mr. pai: i will stay mum on that one. host: thank you, i appreciate it. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its >> daniel from the national gender -- national journal joins us. could see changes, what is mitch mcconnell attempting to do? to take the wants senate rules to limit the amount of time it would take to debated judges and nominees to be judges or sub cabinet positions.